Life Cycle of a Star - Activities

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1 Name: Class Period: Life Cycle of a Star - Activities A STAR IS BORN STAGES COMMON TO ALL STARS All stars start as a nebula. A nebula is a large cloud of gas and dust. Gravity can pull some of the gas and dust in a nebula together. The contracting cloud is then called a protostar. A protostar is the earliest stage of a star s life. A star is born when the gas and dust from a nebula become so hot that nuclear fusion starts. Once a star has started nuclear fusion, it is known as a main sequence star. When a main sequence star begins to run out of hydrogen fuel, the star becomes a red giant or a red super giant. THE DEATH OF A LOW OR MEDIUM MASS STAR After a low or medium mass or star has become a red giant the outer parts grow bigger and drift into space, forming a cloud of gas called a planetary nebula. The blue-white hot core of the star that is left behind cools and becomes a white dwarf. The white dwarf eventually runs out of fuel and dies as a black dwarf. THE DEATH OF A HIGH MASS STAR A dying red super giant star can suddenly explode. The explosion is called a supernova. After the star explodes, some of the materials from the star are left behind. This material may form a neutron star. Neutron stars are the remains of high-mass stars. The most massive stars become black holes when they die. After a large mass star explodes, a large amount of mass may remain. The gravity of the mass is so strong that gas is pulled inward, pulling more gas into a smaller and smaller space. Eventually, the gravity becomes so strong that nothing can escape, not even light. 1

2 Instructions: Go to Unit 6 on flippedoutscience.com and look for resource links to help you answer the following questions. Pages in your textbook are also helpful. Just like living things, stars have a life cycle, which consists of birth, growth, development, middle age, old age, and death. The life cycle of a star spans over billions of years. Section One - Sequencing The stages below are not in the right order. Number the stages in the correct order. The star begins to run out of fuel and expands into a red giant or red super giant. Stars start out as diffused clouds of gas and dust drifting through space. A single one of these clouds is called a nebula What happens next depends on the mass of the star. Heat and pressure build in the core of the protostar until nuclear fusion takes place. The force of gravity pulls a nebula together forming clumps called protostars. Hydrogen atoms are fused together generating an enormous amount of energy igniting the star causing it to shine. Section Two - Vocabulary Match the word on the left with the definition on the right. black dwarf e. star left at the core of a planetary nebula white dwarf nebula g. a red super giant star explodes c. what a medium-mass star becomes at the end of its life protostar b. a large cloud of gas or dust in space supernova a. exerts such a strong gravitational pull that no light escapes neutron star black hole d. the earliest stage of a star s life f. the remains of a high mass star 2

3 Section Three Understanding Main Ideas - Low Mass Star Match the lettered images to the numbered labels. 1. Red giant 2. Where fusion begins 3. Nebula 4. Black hole 5. The stage the sun is in 6. White dwarf 7. Planetary Nebula Section Four Understanding Main Ideas - High Mass Star 1. Black Hole 2. Supernova 3. Protostar 4. Gravity causes this to condense into a protostar 5. Main sequence star 6. When a star begins to run out of fuel and grows larger 7. Neutron star 3

4 Section Five Graphic Organizer Putting it all Together Section Six Reading and Response - The Sun Our Sun is a star, much like all of the other stars that are visible in the night sky. What makes our Sun different than other stars in the sky is that it is so much closer to Earth, and thus so much brighter. The next nearest star to Earth (other than our Sun) is Proxima Centauri, which is about 4.2 light years away from Earth. This is 263,000 times further away from Earth than our Sun. While there are 11 stars within 10 light-years of Earth, most of the other stars visible in the night sky are many thousands of times further away. Compared with the other stars in our galaxy, the Sun is a medium-sized star. Typical main-sequence stars in our galaxy vary in size from 0.1 times less massive than our Sun, to about 40 times more massive, with a radius range of 0.1 to 18 times that of the Sun. The luminosity or absolute brightness of main-sequence stars in our galaxy varies from times as bright to 500,000 times brighter. Giant and supergiant stars near the end of their life can become much, much larger in diameter and brightness. The surface temperature of our Sun, 5,500 C, is about average when compared with other stars. About half of the stars in our galaxy are cooler, and about half are hotter. The surface temperature of stars ranges from 3000 C to 30,000 C, though very few stars are over 10,000 C. The color of our Sun, yellow, is at about the middle of the star spectrum, with red at 4

5 the cool end and blue-white at the hot end. One characteristic of our Sun that is a bit unusual is that our Sun is not part of a binary (double) or multiple-star system. Our Sun has no star partner. Our Sun is expected to have a total life span of about 10 billion years. It is currently about 4.6 billion years old, in the middle of its main sequence phase of life. During this phase, it fuses hydrogen into helium in its core, with a temperature of about 15 million degrees Celsius. When all of its hydrogen has been fused into helium, the fusion process will temporarily stop, and the Sun will begin to collapse under the force of gravity. This compression at the core will increase the temperature. When the core temperature reaches about 100 million degrees Celsius, the fusion of helium will begin, and the Sun will expand to become a red giant. Once all of the helium has been fused to carbon, the Sun will collapse into a white dwarf, a very hot glowing ball of carbon. Eventually, the Sun will finally cool into a black dwarf. The Sun is located in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is shaped like a flat disk with outwardly spiraling arms. The overall diameter of the Milky Way Galaxy is about 100,000 light-years. Our Sun and solar system is about 27,000 light-years from the center, in one of the spiral arms. There are about 200 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. They are seen from Earth as a milky white band of stars (hence the name) crossing the sky, but is visible only on very clear, dark nights away from city lights. Questions: 1. Our Sun is so much brighter than the other stars visible in the sky because it is so to the Earth. The next closest star to Earth is. Which is light years away from Earth. 2. The size of the Sun is, compared to the size of other main-sequence stars. 3. The surface temperature of our Sun is degrees Celsius, which gives a surface color of. Stars range in surface temperature from to C. 5

6 4. Our Sun is currently about billion years old, and is expected to have a total life span of about billion years. 5. During the main-sequence of a star s life, it fuses into and has a core temperature of degrees Celsius. In the beginning of the giant or supergiant phase, a star fuses into and will have a core temperature of degrees Celsius. 6. Our Sun is located in the Galaxy, which has a diameter of light-years. 7. Our Sun is located about light-years from the center of the galaxy. 6

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